You know, as long as I've been anticipating the release of this game on the Xbox Live Marketplace, I did not expect this. Monday Night Combat is not just a great downloadable game, it is a great game in general. What's on tap here is almost enough to rival the likes of every other multiplayer juggernaut that thrives on the 360, and it has far more value than its $15 price tag warrants.
Let's start with the modes. While the most publicized DotA like mode Crossfire is in full effect, that isn't all you're getting. MNC also has a mode known as Blitz, which is essentially a Horde mode against the AI robots while still tossing in all of the elements from Crossfire. All the classes are in full effect as well as the turrets and arena hazards. It has scaling difficulty with up to four players, and it's a blast all on it's own. Rarely do class based shooters allow unimpeded cooperative play like this, and it is a huge refresher from all the chaos that defines Crossfire.
Let's get to the meat and potatoes though, because as chaotic as Crossfire is it is just FUN. There is currently no other game on the 360 that offers up this kind of gameplay, and I have to say that this fact alone has made it one of my favorite games of the year so far. People tend to make comparisons to Team Fortress 2, but brother I'm here to tell you you have no idea. While some of the class strategies from games like TF2 still apply, the game is a lot more strategy centric. While you can just run off and do some decent damage on your own like in most other team based shooters, the real damage here comes from enabling your own team while disabling the other. This means building turrets, taking down bots, and protecting your own AI as it rushes the enemy base to try and take down their money ball. It's fast past, hectic, and it's rare that a clean cut victory is ever truly decided before the last few seconds.
Now, the one thing that has worried most people, for some reason, is the style. I'll just come out with it right now, it's great. While the color palette is a bit bland, Uber has managed to create a world that is just fun to be in. The announcer is actually pretty hilarious, and despite all of his jokes being extremely corny I still managed to chuckle several times at what can either be described as conscious incompetence or professional lunacy. The entire game just takes the future sport thing and runs with it, and it never manages to slip up despite having every opportunity too. It is rare that a game manages to create an immersive world in a multiplayer environment, and while others have done it better MNC still more than meets its mark.
Perhaps the one thing that surprised me the most is how friendly MNC is to new players. Upon booting up for the first time, the game immediately drops you into the shoes of the Assault class and goes through a fairly lengthy tutorial explaining most of the facets of the game. If that were not enough, there is also a fairly comprehensive 'How to Play' section in the online menus that covers both the strengths, weakness, and abilities of each class on the roster. If not for this I probably would not have known that I could hack enemy turrets, or that the the Sniper could fire through enemies. This is normally the type of info that one has to learn either through coincidence in game or by looking up a guide online. Having all of this spelled out up front allows everyone to jump in and have fun almost immediately without having to feel at too much of a disadvantage when playing against veterans.
But how does it play? That's the million dollar question. Well, the gameplay is fantastic actually. Having sunk a decent amount of time into each class, as well as being killed a decent number of times by each class, I believe I can say without a doubt that it just feels good. Each of the classes feels right in their respective roles, and although some of the classes like the Tank feel a bit clunky it feels like an intentional clunk rather than just lazy programming. Each of the six 'Pros' have very defined weakness and strengths that are fairly easy to figure out within a few minutes as playing as them. The Assassin can devastate an opponent at melee range, but she is extremely fragile as a result. Likewise, the Gunner is a huge tank of a man that can dish out the hurt almost as well as he can take it, but he moves very slowly and has few combat options outside of "shoot gun".
All in all, Monday Night Combat is an achievement and a great sign of things to come from Uber. it's fast paced, exciting, and one hell of a good time. Of all the Summer of Arcade releases so far, I cannot recommend Monday Night Combat enough. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and fellow murder enthusiasts; It's time for MONDAY NIGHT COOOOOMBAT!!!
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